Skip to main content
ON THE CHANGE OF REFRANGIBILITY OF LIGHT.
receiving the light directly into the eye it be found convenient to form a pure spectrum on a screen of white paper, then, if the absorbing medium be placed in the path of the incident light, the scattered light forming any part of the spectrum cannot be cut off or weakened without at the same time cutting off or weakening the dispersed light coming from the same part of the screen. But if the absorbing medium be held in front of the eye, its effect on the spectrum will sometimes be very sensibly different from what it would be were the screen to send back none but scattered light.
It is true that the quantity of light dispersed by white paper is so small that this substance may very well continue to be used as a screen, without any danger of the observer's being deceived, if only he be aware of the fact of dispersion, so as to be on his guard. Still, it is not unreasonable to seek for a substitute for paper, which may be free from the same objection.
190. A porcelain tablet appeared to be unexceptionable in this respect, for it exhibited no perceptible sensibility, even when examined by a linear spectrum. However, the translucency of the substance gave the spectrum a blurred appearance, and the fixed lines were not shown so well as on paper.
Chalk scraped smooth is well adapted, from its fineness, its whiteness and its opacity, for showing the most delicate objects. The finest fixed lines are beautifully seen on it, decidedly better than on paper. Its sensibility too, though not absolutely null, is much less than that of most kinds of white paper. Indeed, it would be an unnecessary refinement to seek for anything better, wore it not that a piece of sufficient size might not always be at hand. From what I have seen, I believe that the best kind of screen will be obtained by the use of some white inorganic chemical precipitate, but my experiments in this department have not yet been sufficiently extended to authorize me in recommending any particular process.
191. The object of the observer may however be altogether different, and he may wish to extend the spectrum as far as possible, for the purpose of viewing the fixed lines belonging to the invisible part beyond the extreme violet, or making experiments on the invisible rays. For this purpose it would be proper to